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What's the Point?

Okay, so we know how I’ll benefit from this endeavor. I’ll gain experience in the great outdoors that will help me write a better book set in the Adirondacks. But you, my dear reader, may well be asking, “What’s in all this for me?” Hopefully you’ll gain a little knowledge, have a few laughs, and vicariously enjoy a sense of adventure. Think of it as a modern-day Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, where you get to sit comfortably at your computer screen – much like Marlin Perkins watching from a safe distance behind some bushes. I, on the other hand, will go out into the wild, ala Jim Fowler, and do all the heavy lifting in an effort to entertain you.

            Well, on second thought…

« Fish Tales | Conquering Mount Jo »
Thursday
Mar312011

(Spell) check, please! The Adirondak Loj

 

  The other morning I was helping my first grader with his spelling words. He was having a hard time, particularly with fur, sir, and her. It was difficult to figure out a way to help him remember which vowel went with which word when they all sounded the same. The pressure was mounting because, as everyone knows, if you start blowing spelling tests in first grade it’s downhill from there. He’ll only be able to  get into some second-rate college and wind up with some dead end, loser job like writing a blog. The more we worked on the spelling words, the later I was becoming for my job writing a blog. So you can see how the whole situation was pretty stressful.

            One of the things I had to do that day for my blog-writing job was sign up to go snowshoeing at the Adirondack Lodge. Imagine my surprise when I found out it’s actually spelled Adirondak Loj. My first reaction was relief. Even if my son never masters spelling, he might be able to get a job someday at a place where no one bats an eye when you spell lodge “loj.” But then I got to thinking (I hate when that happens). I know the Adirondak Loj is pretty remote, but shouldn’t they at least have spell check? I decided to investigate further.

            Turns out, the spelling was decided by a previous owner: Melvil Dewey. If the name rings a bell, it’s probably because you’ve used the Dewey Decimal system to look up a book at the library – a system that he invented. Dewey was also the founder of the Lake Placid Club and an advocate of spelling reform.

 

 

   Ah, now it begins to make sense. Seems old Melvil (whose name was originally spelled Melville) believed we all should use “simpler spelin.” So it made sense to Mr. Dewey (or should that be Dooey?) to spell “lodge” the way it sounds – “loj” and “Adirondack” as “Adirondak.” He was even able to convince the Lake Placid Club to use his modified spelling on their menus. A menu from 1927 offered “Hadok, Poted beef with noodls, Parsli or Masht potato, Butr, Steamd rys, Letis, and Ys cream.” Although he lost me at the “Ys cream” (wise cream?), I had to admit, given the vagaries of English spelling, that his system had some basis in logic. Too bad his simpler spelin never caught on, especially with my son’s spelling test looming.

            But then I thought back to my college days when I was a waitress at a busy Lake George restaurant. Every summer I’d wait on downstate city slickers who thought upstaters were backwards because we don’t charge tolls to cross a river. Some customers would talk really slowly (which they thought was very funny – so much for sophisticated metropolitan wit) as if I’d be confused by such high falutin’ phrases as “I’d like my steak medium” and “where’s the restroom.” Little did they know I was not only capable of following normal conversations, but I could also calculate 15% of any number faster than they could say, “check please.”

 

 

            So I guess it’s just as well that Dewey’s spelling never took hold. Imagine what the downstate folks would say if our menu read like the one from the Lake Placid Club. They’d probably laff.

 

 

Reader Comments (2)

I bet Dewey would love texting

April 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTracey

Tracey beat me to it. I came over here to say what she said. I mean--wot she sed.

April 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaye George

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